Home Sweet Dome

Last weekend my Dad, Ian and I headed up to the Carrier Dome to see Syracuse play longtime rival Georgetown. A record-setting 35,012 people packed the Dome breaking the NCAA on-campus attendance record. Carmelo Anthony was back at the Dome to have his number retired at halftime. The place was rocking and orange was everywhere. It was perfect. Then we lost to Georgetown. Talk about a buzz-kill.

The Syracuse – Georgetown rivalry is legendary and one of the things I’m most sad to lose as conference realignment moves forward next season and the Big East falls apart. I know they plan to continue playing each other, but it just won’t be the same. Seventeen of Syracuse’s 72 games with more than 30,000 in attendance at the Dome have been against Georgetown. A few years before I was born in February of 1980 Syracuse brought a 57 consecutive home game win streak in to its final game at Manley Field House. The seniors on that team had never lost a home game in their careers. Georgetown beat the Orange that day and Coach John Thompson grabbed a mic and announced, “Manley Field House is officially closed.’’ Truly a rivalry for the ages – you just can’t make this stuff up.

Last weekend, this year’s Syracuse squad took a 38 home game winning streak onto the court. Thanks to Otto Porter blowing up for 33 points and Syracuse not being able to beat their 2-3 zone – something you think they’d know how to attack! – the ‘cuse lost their last Big East home game to the Hoyas. Current Georgetown Coach, John Thompson III, said he wasn’t going to give a Manley Field House is closed type of statement. Some might call him classy for that, but I prefer to think he just doesn’t want to give the Orange any bulletin board material for their rematch on March 9 down here in D.C.

I’ll be at that game too and I hope the ‘cuse can return the favor. I’m sure it’ll be a blast and it’s always fun to see so many Orange shirts at an away game despite Georgetown’s best efforts to keep Syracuse fans out. I actually had to make a $50 donation to Georgetown this year for the chance to buy a maximum of eight tickets. They don’t do that for any other game. It was a bit hard to swallow, but worth it to head to Carrier Dome South – I mean the Verizon Center – for the game this March.

Pics from the game at the Dome below. I unfortunately forgot my real camera so some of the iPhone shots are a bit blurry. I did have my wide angle iPhone lens adapter though, so I was able to get some good shots showing how packed it was in there!

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Dear Carrier Dome: I’ve Missed You

Dad and me at the Dome!

I went home this past weekend for the Syracuse vs. UConn game at the Carrier Dome. I’m sure there are a lot of other teams’ fans who might disagree, but there is nothing quite like watching a game in the Dome. It routinely hosts the largest on-campus crowds in college basketball, and if you’re there for one of the 30,000+ games, you’ll understand why they’ve dubbed it the Loud House.

On Saturday, the Dome again set the record for this season’s largest on-campus crowd while hosting Uconn with 33,430 fans – also, the fourth largest crowd in Carrier Dome history. I’ve been at many of the attendance record setting games over the years and they are really something special. For years (probably a few too many) I sat in the nosebleeds after buying my $5 youth ticket. When I was in college my Dad and I got season tickets behind the hoop opposite the student section, and I would drive the two hours home from school to make the games.

The first record-setting game I remember being a part of was in 2005 against Notre Dame. The Syracuse Athletic Department actually announced a sell out – the first in history – with 33,199 in attendance. Walking into the Dome that day, every single door had a sign posted that read: Carrier Dome – Sold Out. It gave me chills. Syracuse struggled early that day, and it truly felt like the crowd willed them to victory in a 60-57 win as it got so loud in there I felt like a 747 jet was taking off above us.

Carrier Dome

Gerry McNamara’s senior day game was another special record breaker. No player has quite captured the hearts of Syracuse fans quite like G-Mac did, and I have to admit, I may have been one of the many girls in attendance holding a “Marry Me Gerry” poster. The ‘cuse lost 92-82 against Villanova that day, but the 33,633 in attendance were as loud as ever celebrating G-Mac’s career.

I missed out on the latest record-setting game in 2010, which still stands as the largest on-campus crowd in college hoops, also against Villanova. The Orange didn’t disappoint this time, beating the Wildcats 95-77 in front of 34,616 fans.a

While Saturday’s large crowd didn’t break the record, it was still a packed house. My Dad and I sat up in section 315 about five rows up and enjoyed every minute of it. The ‘cuse made it interesting as always allowing Uconn to within two with five minutes to play. After that they shut it down though, beating UConn by 18 with five walk-ons on the court to end the game. We were on our feet cheering on Melo’s blocks (and jumpers!), CJ Fair’s amazing dunk and watching Kris, Scoop and Dion do their thing. There’s no place like home!

100,000 Miles… Well, Almost

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Lil Blue before I abandoned her in the Wilkes Barre Pep Boys parking lot

On New Years Eve, my boyfriend and I set off to make the drive from D.C. To Syracuse in my little blue Saturn – affectionately known as lil blue. I’ve been driving lil blue since just before my senior year of high school so she’s been a lot of places with me. After high school lil blue traveled with me to all 3 colleges I attended, graduate school and my first job.

We had just made the same trip a few days earlier for Christmas, and I’d been bragging to anyone who would listen that week that I was about to hit 100,000 miles. Apparently that’s not a big milestone anymore, and most people hit it well before ten years. Regardless, I was pretty excited.

I took the first shift at the wheel on the way to our New Year’s party, and Pennsylvania got back at me for all the crap I’ve talked about how awful it is to drive through over the years. Just outside of Lebanon on 81 – the middle of nowhere – I heard a loud bang and the car started to rumble. This set off a series of “is this really happening” events making it quite an adventure to get home. My front tire had literally exploded, blowing off the front quarter panel of the car and damaging the horn and headlight too.

I navigated to the shoulder and after calming down gave AAA a call. I’ve always been impressed by their customer service, but they didn’t seem too enthused about helping this time. “You know it’s NYE so you’re probably out of luck,” was the response I got along with a list of Pennsylvania car repair shops and dealerships I could have just as easily pulled off google. It was also going to take over an hour to get a tow truck to us.

“Well, at least things can’t get any worse,” I said. I called shop after shop while sitting on the side of the road as cars and trucks whizzed passed us just a foot away. I kept getting the same answer – no one could help me, at least not until Monday. At the tow truck driver’s recommendation we decided to head 90 miles north to a Pep Boys in Wilkes Barre – at least we’d be going in the right direction.

“Well, at least things can’t get any worse,” I said again as we hopped into the tow truck with the driver and his wife. They were going to use our misfortune to drive up to Scranton for a fancy New Year’s dinner. If you know anything about Scranton, you’ll understand why I had a tough time not laughing at this.

At the Pep Boys I figured we were about to be back on our way to the party with a new tire in no time. The mechanic laughed when he saw the car and said there was no way he could put a new tire on until I had body work done. Of course no body shops would be open until Monday.

Determined to still make the party we asked how close we were to the Scranton airport – yes, it does exist. After turning down an offer from a slightly sketchy guy who was willing to bring just me to the airport, (with the way my luck was going, I really didn’t want to get axe-murdered that night!) Ian found a cab company to come pick us up. Our cab driver Junior was quite the character. He hated all other drivers, felt bad about how much he had to charge us and really liked the Kia gerbils commercials. The Avis rental car workers were also happy with our misfortune since they said they normally don’t get to talk to too many people there. They set us up with a Ford Fusion and we were finally back on our way to Syracuse. We missed dinner, but caught up with everyone for drinks at the hotel and had an awesome night out making it totally worth the crazy adventure it took to get there.

After some thought I decided it wasn’t worth repairing the car, and it was time to let lil blue go. The final odometer reading: 99,875 miles. I didn’t get my 100,000 miles, but I guess that’s life. You don’t always end up where you plan to, but hopefully you had some good times and fun adventures along the way to give you some great stories.

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Traveling

I’ve been neglecting my blog while I put to the test just how much I like to travel. I went on five trips in November, three by plane, one by bus and one by car, so it was a busy month to say the least.

Twins Game - September 2010

I took advantage of some rewards flights to book a pair of long weekends to Minneapolis where my boyfriend lives. Minneapolis isn’t anything like I’d imagined. My vision came mostly from Marshall’s descriptions of Minnesota on How I Met Your Mother. It’s a very cool, fun city, however I enjoy it a lot more when it’s not cold there! On my trips there, we’ve caught a couple Twins games; toured the Mall of America, including the aquarium inside of the mall; and checked out restaurants in different parts of town. Some of my favorites are The NookPsycho Suzi’s and Stella’s.

 

In between Minneapolis trips, I made it up to Hoboken for the first time to see my brother’s and his girlfriend’s new

NYC Skyline

place, and of course we made it into NYC also. Hoboken is small, but packed with people, restaurants/bars, shops and energy. There is nothing like New York pizza and bagels and we definitely ate well that weekend. My favorite pizza stops were Lombardi’s Pizzeria in NYC and Johnny Pepperoni in Hoboken.

For Thanksgiving I made the drive up to Syracuse. It’s always nice to go back home for a visit, but was especially nice given that the usual winter temps hadn’t set in yet, and we enjoyed 50s and even 60s with no snow the entire time I was home! My ride home was pretty tough, taking 2 and a half hours longer than usual while it rained the entire time, but my parents were waiting at one of our usual restaurant spots and had food and drink ready and waiting for me when I finally arrived. Thanksgiving was filled with some great food. My cousin cooked our turkey this year and did an amazing job, and my Mom made one of my favorites, a peanut butter pie!

Finally, I ended the month with a trip to Tampa for both work and fun. I got the chance to speak on a panel about mobile health at the National Conference of State Legislatures Fall Forum. I shared findings from a recent study on health technology that my company did. It was a really interesting experience, and I’m definitely intrigued by how this topic will affect our lives in the coming years. After the conference I headed over to nearby St. Pete to visit my grandparents. They spend the winters there and I head down every year to visit. It’s always a treat to be taken out to eat, go to the movies and lend my tech expertise. This year was pretty easy – I helped with a Netlix issue and added a bunch of pictures to their digital photo frame.

It was a fun month, and I do still love to travel and see new places, but I have to say I’m happy to be back home and staying put…well, at least for a few weeks.